Diabetics and cholesterol

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
A high cholesterol level can increase anyone's risk of cardiovascular problems, but it's especially dangerous for diabetics (die-uh-BET-icks). Even in the absence of other factors, uncontrolled diabetes (die-uh-BEE-tees) may damage the heart and circulatory system. Just having type 2 diabetes can double your chance of a heart attack. That's because excess sugar in the blood tends to promote atherosclerosis (uh-theer-oh-sclah-ROE-sis), or the narrowing of the arteries that feed the heart. If you have high cholesterol as well, this clogging effect can be greatly multiplied. For reasons that aren't fully understood, cholesterol also behaves differently in those with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetics tend to have low levels of HDL or 'good' cholesterol, which carries excess cholesterol out of the bloodstream. Methods known to raise HDL levels, such as exercise and medication, are often ineffective for diabetics. Therefore, doctors may instead try to lower your level of LDL, or 'bad,' cholesterol. However, it's vital that you make certain lifestyle changes. These include controlling your blood sugar level, not smoking, and eating a healthy, low-fat diet. Foods like garlic, beans, and whole grains can help reduce your cholesterol. While exercise may or may not impact your cholesterol levels, it still provides numerous benefits for your heart, and can help you lose weight, in turn lowering blood sugar. To find out more about diabetes and cholesterol, consult a health care specialist.

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